Benno and the Night of Broken Glass

by Meg Wiviott and Josée Bisaillon

Benno the cat lives at Number 5 Rosenstrasse, where many people in the building care... read more

Benno the cat lives at Number 5 Rosenstrasse, where many people in the building care for him. Hans Hausmeister gives him fresh milk. Sophie Adler gives him chicken scraps after her family’s Sabbath meal on Fridays. Inge Schmidt sneaks him schnitzel after church on Sundays. But Benno no longer sees Sophie and Inge walk to school together after “men in brown shirts” light a bonfire on the street one night. Soon, once-friendly faces yell “Scat!” and people walk with lowered eyes as Benno tries to avoid the heavy boots of the brown-shirted men on the street. “Then came a night like no other . . . At Moshe’s butcher shop, they overturned the refrigerators . . . Benno saw the beautiful Neue Synagogue set ablaze . . . Herr Gerber’s grocery remained untouched.” Meg Wiviott’s remarkable narrative conveys the hugeness and inexplicable tragedy of events in 1938 Berlin from a neutral observer’s perspective. Josée Bisaillon’s wonderful mixed-media illustrations (collage, drawing, and digital montage) gradually shift from warm colors to somber tones to images that give a dramatic sense of chaos and fear. An informational afterword provides more information on Kristallnacht, including photographs and a bibliography. (Ages 7–11)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2011

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